Pensions For Victims Of Terrorism
A pension for the injured victims of the Troubles
You will be aware there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the introduction of a pension for victims of the troubles. This has been highlighted in the media and ongoing research has been taking place on behalf of the government of Northern Ireland.
The research has been carried out in line with the Government’s intention to deal successfully with matters relating to ‘The Legacy of the Past’. Many factors have been considered and the Governments of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been actively involved in consulting with the numerous victims’ groups involved. To this end the DPOANI have spoken to many of those directly involved in the implementation of reconciliation and reparation processes.
The introduction of a pension for victims is just one strand being considered and only the classification of victims and who and how it will be assessed and awarded has to be clarified before a final decision will be made. We have been informed that this pension could and should be awarded before the end of this year if all groups accept and the outstanding issues.
To this end two potential schemes have been narrowed down from an original suggestion of two.
International Law including but not limited to, the European Convention on Human Rights, numerous stated cases within Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the rest of the world have been studied and must be recognised in any progress to settling these matters.
I will try to outline the two schemes as simply as possible without too much detail as the paperwork is extensive. We have been in consultation this week with a senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast who has been charged with consulting with numerous victims’ groups including WAVE and ourselves.
I would ask you to read over the two possibilities and question yourself honestly about which outcome is likely to satisfy the majority of victims, as well as which is likely to satisfy the vast majority of citizens within Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. The decision must have a chance of satisfying not just some, but everybody and lead to a stable future for all of us in the long term and not just the immediate future.
1. Non Discriminatory Approach
This is where no distinction in relation to Victims and Survivors, between civilians, security force members, or paramilitaries. This is consistent within human rights legislation.
In this instance the right to a pension or award might be reduced or refused if the person concerned was actively involved in the commission, preparation or planning of a criminal act.
2. Review Panel
A Review Panel would be set up to decide whether any award or pension was justified. This would include those mentioned above however, it would exclude those with a ‘serious criminal conviction’. The following would also be considered in respect of those involved to include whether they have shown remorse for the offence, assisted in any investigation into the crime, or where a victim has died, the views of the close members of the family. Time served, gravity of offences, their level of disability etc. Therefore, those involved in serious criminal acts might also have any award reduced or withdrawn completely, based on a scale.
(a) Those who have suffered physical injury(s) as a result of the Troubles
(b) The injury has resulted in disablement
(c) If agreed those convicted of a serious criminal offence would be excluded or receive a reduced or nil award.
Part © will be decided upon which option outlined at 1. And 2. Above.
The following will be considered by any review panel or process is initiated.
1. The level of injury and degree of disablement
2. Requirements for the provision of care.
It has been suggested that a person is entitled to a Victim’s Pension if
(a) Suffered injury as a result of an unlawful conflict-related incident and
(b) Suffers serious disablement as a result of that injury.
For the purpose of this, serious disablement means
(a) At least 40 % impairment by comparison with those without the injury or
(b) Chronic pain associated with performing actions compared to persons without the injury.
I must stress that physical injury includes psychological injury.
Also the pension is not means tested, I am not aware as yet whether it will be tax deductible, or will any retrospection occur.
This must have occurred in Northern Ireland.
May be awarded to a person not living in Northern Ireland.
A Carer’s Pension may also be introduced where the person injured has died.
Please give me your thoughts in relation to the two processes proposed. Further details will be forwarded as soon as they are available.